Cali Trip Recap: The Hills are Alive with the Sound of WINE

Y’all. I’ve found my spirit city- it’s like a spirit animal but with buildings and fields and wine! Wine!! Sonoma, California I’d like to call dibs on you.
Sauvignon Blanc at Arrowood 
Over Thanksgiving, Bryan and I took a trip to Cali to check out Napa and Sonoma, travel down Highway 1, and visit San Francisco. It was epiccc. 

We flew into Oakland on Saturday and got our rental car, which was the epitome of ‘super sweet rental car.’ Yup, it was a mustard yellow Kia Soul…

As obnoxious as this car was (apologies to anyone who actually owns a mustard yellow Kia Soul), the car became a running joke throughout the trip and rode quite smoothly. As long as no one sings the hamster song, all is good.

We flew all morning and arrived right at midday, so we were hungry by the time we got on the road. Oakland is only a little over an hour to Napa, but we stopped in Emeryville to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat. We chose Grato Deli based off the pictures of their burgers on Yelp, and I was impressed for this hole-in-the-wall burger joint. Bryan got the Inferno burger, and I got the garden burger with a turkey patty. The bread was soft and fluffy, and the cheese broiled on for extra cheesy goodness.

And of course garlic fries. Always garlic fries.

We stayed in Sonoma, but quickly visited Napa on our way in. There’s definitely a different feel between the two towns. Napa had a somewhat industrial feel outside the center of town, and the town center was fairly new seeming. Coming from my New Orleans roots, I like old buildings with extra character. We didn’t get the chance to explore there long, so I can’t say for certain, but there was character out the wazoo in Sonoma.

We were anxious to get to the wine, and took the advice of the girl at the information desk and visited Raymond Vineyards. This was unlike any vineyard I’ve ever been to. As we drank through one tasting each (I went with the recommended Taste of the Valley, Bryan with an all white wine sampler), we spoke with their new event coordinator. There were chandeliers everywhere, bottles and jewelry on display in the same cases, and mannequins dressed for a party, it’s obvious that some crazy events go on after hours!

While this was surely interesting, I was too obsessed with the views outside to even care much what the building looked like. I mean, look at these colors!!

Next we went to the more tame and classic Rutherford Grove winery. The place was empty when we arrived, and we were definitely treated well by the women working there. They explained to us the differences between the soils around the Napa and Sonoma regions and the layout of their grapes. I had a glass of their Petit Syrah- they don’t filter it to keep the intensity of the flavor, and the strength came through! Bryan had a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc. It was around this point that my teeth really started to look darker after a few glasses of red… I’ll bear that burden for great wine and these backdrops.

We then headed into Sonoma to check into our hotel and explore the town. We stayed right in the town square at The Sonoma Hotel, and I loved the small town charm. Yes, it’s mostly for tourists exploring the wine, but as long as you accept that, there’s great food, shopping, and, yes, wine to enjoy!

Dinner that night was pizza and spaghetti and meatballs at The Red Grape (along with brown butter Brussel sprouts)! This meal was great. The restaurant was alive with locals and tourists, and had a great looking menu. My pizza had gorgonzola, gouda and parmesan with pepperoni and sausage- need I say more?

I rose early the next morning (one bad effect of a 2 hour time change), and so Bryan and I went on a quick, colorful, and beautiful quick hike overlooking the town. It was a little foggy, but you're supposed to be able to see all the way to San Francisco on good days! 

 After showering, we got coffee from the Basque Cafe and got ready to explore Sonoma. The town was adorable, but many shops didn't open until around 10, so we were quite early. We did get to visit the original Williams-Sonoma, which was home decor heaven.  

The rest of the day was winery after winery, and they were all so beautiful, so I'll let the pictures do the talking here, that work?

Sebastiani Winery 

Estate at Arrowood

The next morning, we got coffee and breakfast at Basque Cafe, and then we were off! It was a short and sweet visit to Sonoma and Napa, but I can tell it won't be the last. The vibrant colors, wonderful charm, great people, and the WINE will certainly have me coming back for more. 


  1. Wow! What a gorgeous excursion! I’m moving back to the West Coast in a couple months (I live bicoastally) and now Sonoma is on the top of my quick vacations list. Thanks for sharing- I love your blog!

    Sending positive vibes your way!
    --Lianne | LittleRedCanvas.com

    1. You'll love it! I'm not sure how long the colors stay like this, but it was amazing! And thanks for the blog love, I really like yours too!